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Trash-Collecting Device Breaks Apart In The Pacific Ocean

The plastic barrier with a tapered 3-meter-deep (10-foot-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline

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Trash, Ocean
A ship tows The Ocean Cleanup's first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

A trash collection device deployed to corral plastic litter floating in the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii has broken apart and will be hauled back to dry land for repairs.

Boyan Slat, who launched the Pacific Ocean cleanup project, told NBC News last week that the 600-meter (2,000-foot) long floating boom will be towed 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to Hawaii.

If it can’t be repaired there, it will be loaded on a barge and returned to its home port of Alameda, California.

 

Ocean Pollution, trash
Artist Joel Deal Stockdill, lower right, works on a blue whale art piece made from discarded single-use plastic at Crissy Field in San Francisco. VOA

 

The boom broke apart under constant wind and waves in the Pacific.

Slat said he’s disappointed, but not discouraged and pledged that operations would resume as soon as possible.

“This is an entirely new category of machine that is out there in extremely challenging conditions,” the 24-year-old Dutch inventor said. “We always took into account that we might have to take it back and forth a few times. So it’s really not a significant departure from the original plan.”

Previously Slat said the boom was moving slower than the plastic, allowing the trash to float away.

Microplastics, plastic, trash
A volunteer shows plastics retrieved from the ocean, after a garbage collection, ahead of World Environment Day, on La Costilla Beach, on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain. VOA

A ship towed the U-shaped barrier in September from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas. It had been in place since the end of October.

Also Read: The Ocean And Its Climate Crisis

The plastic barrier with a tapered 3-meter-deep (10-foot-deep) screen is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in the patch while allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Slat has said he hopes one day to deploy 60 of the devices to skim plastic debris off the surface of the ocean. (VOA)

Next Story

Temperatures Of The Ocean Rising Faster Than Previously Believed: Scientists

Climate changing emissions continue to rise, and I don’t think enough is being done to tackle the rising temperatures

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Ocean, temperature
A woman photographs the sunrise at Ocean Park, in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, July 12, 2018. VOA

The world’s oceans are rising in temperature faster than previously believed as they absorb most of the world’s growing climate-changing emissions, scientists said Thursday.

Ocean heat – recorded by thousands of floating robots – has been setting records repeatedly over the last decade, with 2018 expected to be the hottest year yet, displacing the 2017 record, according to an analysis by the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

That is driving sea level rise, as oceans warm and expand, and helping fuel more intense hurricanes and other extreme weather, scientists warn.

The warming, measured since 1960, is faster than predicted by scientists in a 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report that looked at ocean warming, according to the study, published this week in the journal Science.

 

Trash, Ocean, temperature
A ship tows The Ocean Cleanup’s first buoyant trash-collecting device toward the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco en route to the Pacific Ocean, Sept. 8, 2018. VOA

 

“It’s mainly driven by the accumulation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere due to human activities,” said Lijing Cheng, a lead author of the study from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The increasing rate of ocean warming “is simply a signature of increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” Cheng said.

Leading climate scientists said in October that the world has about 12 years left to shift the world away from still rising emission toward cleaner renewable energy systems, or risk facing some of the worst impacts of climate change.

Those include worsening water and food shortages, stronger storms, heatwaves and other extreme weather, and rising seas.

For the last 13 years, an ocean observing system called Argo has been used to monitor changes in ocean temperatures, Cheng said, leading to more reliable data that is the basis for the new ocean heat records.

Ocean, Temperature
This photo provided by NOAA Corps shows the deployment of an Argo float to capture ocean temperature data.VOA

The system uses almost 4,000 drifting ocean robots that dive to a depth of 2,000 meters every few days, recording temperature and other indicators as they float back to the surface.

Through the data collected, scientists have documented increases in rainfall intensity and more powerful storms such as hurricanes Harvey in 2017 and Florence in 2018.

Cheng explained that oceans are the energy source for storms, and can fuel more powerful ones as temperatures – a measure of energy – rise.

Storms over the 2050-2100 period are expected, statistically, to be more powerful than storms from the 1950-2000 period, the scientist said.

Cheng said that the oceans, which have so far absorbed over 90 percent of the additional sun’s energy trapped by rising emissions, will see continuing temperature hikes in the future.

Oceans, Temperature
People walk on the beach of Biarritz, southwestern France, along the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 18, 2015. New research shows the oceans are storing much more heat than previously thought. VOA

Because the ocean has large heat capacity it is characterized as a ˜delayed response” to global warming, which means that the ocean warming could be more serious in the future,” the researcher said.

“For example, even if we meet the target of Paris Agreement (to limit climate change), ocean will continue warming and sea level will continue rise. Their impacts will continue.” If the targets of the Paris deal to hold warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, or preferably 1.5C can be met, however, expected damage by 2100 could be halved, Cheng said.

Also Read: Trash-Collecting Device Breaks Apart In The Pacific Ocean

For now, however, climate changing emissions continue to rise, and I don’t think enough is being done to tackle the rising temperatures,” Cheng said. (VOA)